Hej from Sweden, America! I’m the Grouch and I do music reviews. Now, you might wonder why I’m called the Grouch – I’ll give you a hint it isn’t because I am known for my diplomacy or subtle commentary.
The other day Bongo Boy asked me to give a listen to some of their records and jot down my thoughts. Seeing as I have a soft spot in my old Grouchy heart for Blues and Blues based rock, I thought the album to start with would be Backroom Blues Volume One.The album starts off with Miss Stacy by Plainfield Slim & The Groundhawgs: First of all, if you have even an ounce of soul you will feel the groove on this track. I mean the name of the band alone ought to peak your interest.SO what is it that Plainfield Slim and his band of Groundhawgs do? The answer is simple; they blow the roof off. The guitars sound killer as they go into what sounds like a Texas influenced jam – then comes a wicked voice. I get a big goofy smile on my face everytime I hear that vocal snarl. The voice combined with the slide guitar and the harp in the background just scream bad ass rock and roll. I swear I even hear what could be a nod to Cab Calloway – although Plainfield Slim isn’t singing Heidi-Heidi-Heidi-Ho.From here the album moves on Sugar Rush by Blind Lemon Pledge. This song is for the harp lovers. As an armature blues harp player, I respect this man’s ability. Well done, well done indeed.Next up is a track by the Paula Boggs Band, Paula referes to their stuff as “soulgrass”, which is just a really cool word and reminds me of a band I used to be in – the guitar player insisted on calling our stuff “cow punk”, but I digress. So what it is that Paula does? She sings WELL in front of a band that just oozes cool and makes one very impressive amount of noise. Simply put if you want to hear the electric blues done right, you have to check out this band. Man, I hope these guys come to Sweden!
Big Bone Daddy follows up with another rocking track that compels the listener to feel the vibe. What can I say about this track other than the band is rock solid, the singer has a prototypical voice for bad ass blues and the guitar player can do some magic with his axe. Although the style is vastly different, I get the same feeling listening to this man that I got when I first heard Jeff Beck. The riffs are subtle yet incredibly powerful. Well done, Sir, well done.
Next on, what is clearly a great album, is Vin Matteo. His track Inside My Head is one of my favorite tracks on the album. Now, to be honest, aside from the chorus, I cannot really tell what he is singing – and I couldn’t care less. He could be singing nonsense and it would still sound great. Vin’s voice fits the genre well and his guitar rocks. What more can you ask for?
Track six is another offering from Big Bone Daddy. Dad doesn’t disappoint. You really have to listen to these guys. They come off like some laid back old souls who can just rip it up the and grin sardonically while mesmerizing the crowd. Did I mention that their guitar player rocks?
KickBend, a bunch of guys from near Chicago bring their track Gone. What can be said about these guys? They do what they do and they do it well. Coming out of Chicago, I would not expect any thing else from them. It is obvious that these guys were paying attention, because they know how to play.
Kimon and The Prophets contributes to the album with a somewhat subdued blues number called New York’s Finest. I enjoyed the slowed down tempo and the keyboard work combined with the slide guitar is emotion filled.
Vin Matteo is back with Rat Race. Man, I dig this guy. Again, I really don’t know what he is singing aside from frequent invocations of the words Rat Race – Dude, do you talk that way as well, or is it just your singing voice? In any case, it sounds great when backed by your guitar. Keep it up!
The album concludes with the Roadhouse Sons doing a track by the same name. I can see why Bongo Boy put this track last. It has everything an archetypical blues song needs. The music follows the blues formula to a T – the singer has a good voice and the guitar player has some lightening. When those qualities, given the importance of the Roadhouse in the blues mythos, are combined with the fact that the chorus is: We are the Roadhouse sons. We are the chosen ones, there is really no better way to end a blues album.
So, what is the bottom line? If you dig blues and blues based rock you will enjoy this
album. It is definitely worthy of inclusion in any serious collector’s stash.
Now if Bongo Boy would organize a Backroom Blues tour, then I would be really
excited, until then I guess I’ll just have to dig the album. – The Grouch | Sweden
Album available at https://bongoboyrecords.com/backroom-blues/